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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of November 27, 2006

. MoDOT Ready for Missouri Winter (11/30/2006)

The Missouri Department of Transportation says its crews and trucks are ready to plow the inches of snow perdicted to fall in the next 24 hours.

The department actually has a surplus of salt because of last winter's mild weather.

. Salary Commission recommends pay raises (11/29/2006)

The state's Salary Commission voted unanimously to recommend pay raises for judges, state elected officials and legislators.

The pay plan allows for an extra $1200 plus a four percent raise for the officials. Associate circuit court judges will receive an extra $2000 on top of that.

The plan will pass unless the legislature vetoes it by a two-thirds vote by February 1, 2007.

. Missouri judges and state-elected officials are in for a pay raise. (11/29/2006)

The Missouri Salary Commission unanimously passed a plan to raise official's salaries. 

The raise will begin in July of next year unless vetoed by two thirds of the Legislature.

. Mental Health Task Force issued report and reccomendations to Governor. (11/29/2006)

The Missouri Mental Health Task Force released a report to the Governor containing findings and reccomendations on numerous mental health issues.

The report summarizes and outlines areas of improvement for the Department of Mental Health.  The report also lists a number of reccomendations to solve these issues.

Key points outlined for improvement are in the areas of prevention, investigations, and oversight.

Governor Blunt formed the task force after articles in the St. Louis Post Dispatch brought light to what it saw as failures in Missouri's mental health system.

. Missouri House Democrats propose a funding increase for the state's higher education institutions (11/28/2006)

The House Democrats plan to introduce a bill to increase appropriations for Missouri's public colleges and universities by over one hundred million dollars.

House minority leader Jeff Harris says the appropriations will come directly from the state's unencumbered general revenue and will fund operating expenses of universities.

. A Medicare sentenced felon is linked to the southwest Missouri group home where 10 died in a fire. (11/28/2006)

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that a person once linked as executive director of the home's company had been convicted of Medicare fraud in 2003.

AP reporters that Robert Dupont owns the land and the building where ten persons died in the early Monday morning fire.

Missouri law restricts convicted felons from being involved with operation of a long-term care facility, if the crime involved a health care facility.

. Blunt orders department to collect employer data. (11/27/2006)

Governor Blunt has signed an executive order directing the Department of Social Services to compile a quarterly report on Medicaid benefits. 

He is calling it the Missouri Health Care Responsibility Report.

In a press release the governor said "This is about transparency and gathering information that will help us make good decisions as we work together to expand access to health care for all Missourians."

The report will include information on recipients of state-funded health care.  Specifically where they are employed.  It will also make industry-wide comparisons and will encompass full and part-time dependents and their spouses and dependents.

. Freshmen representatives get acquainted with Capitol (11/27/2006)

Newly-elected state representatives got a tour of the Capitol building as part of their orientation.

Senior legislators put on a mock debate session so that the new members could get used to protocol.

. Joplin nursing home fire being treated as a crime scene (11/27/2006)

Ten residents died from a fire at an assisted living facility in Joplin.  More than two dozen others were injured. 

The early Monday morning fire ranks as one of the more deadly in recent Missouri history.

The Anderson Guest House residential care facility is being treated as a crime scene, fire officials say, to ensure thorough investigation.

. Salary commission set to meet for final hearing Wednesday (11/27/2006)

The Chairman of the Citizens' Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials said Monday that the commission will "absolutely" make a decision on whether to recommend a judicial pay raise.

Chairman Jack Pohrer, of St. Louis, said that he couldn't speak on behalf of the entire commission, but he thinks the commission will suggest a pay raise.

. Newly elected state representatives met today for an orientation of their new positions (11/27/2006)

A month before the next legislative session, the freshman house representatives met for an orientation. 

Several expressed their excitement to start their first term and what they hope to achieve in the next term.